Recently I started an Intensive Outpatient Program for people with eating disorders. In group therapy one of the care providers said that humans want 3 sorts of things, power and control, attention and acceptance, and security and certainty. Something along those lines, anyway. And she told us our eating disorder tries to provide one or more of these things, and thats why people feel they need their eating disorder. It fulfills a purpose for us. We then went on to do an activity to make a recovery toolbox filled with ideas for different ways to provide those needs for us.
I wondered why I couldn’t find these outside my eating disorder. Is it even possible for me, in the life I live? Living with depression and anxiety, I have less control over my emotions than most do. My eating disorder helps control my emotions. But my eating disorder also controls me. Acceptance is not something I usually foster in other people- more likely feelings of confusion, annoyance or disgust- and to deal with this lack, the eating disorder steps in again. Security in life.. until recently, I was stuck living with my hurtful and unpredictable mother while I struggled through high school. I didn’t feel secure in my home life, or in my academic work or future. My doctors and mother doubted whether I would graduate high school. My eating disorder provides security by giving me goals I know I can achieve and provoking emotions I can predict. But my eating disorder also creates insecurity by transforming the everyday tools of food and my own body into a landmine of triggers for my anxiety.
Its very clear that my eating disorder isn’t a good coping mechanism by these measures. Unfortunately my surroundings don’t give me a lot to work with. I have to learn to depend on myself, not my eating disorder- similar to how as I age, I have to learn to depend on myself and not my mother or a non existent community. Will I do that?